The Lost Skyscrapers of Jacksonville

February 9, 2016 12 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look back at the six downtown highrises (10 stories and above) that no longer exist.

1. Robert Meyer Hotel - 21 floors

A postcard showing the Robert Meyer's roof-top pool.

The Robert Meyer Hotel was the brainchild of owner Jack Meyer of Alabama, a former World War II Flying Tigers squadron pilot.  The hotel was named for Meyer's father and brother, who both happened to be named Robert. It was designed by New York Architect William B. Tabler Sr., an architect that designed more than 400 hotels over the course of his career.

Officially opening its doors on March 22, 1959, the 563 room hotel was the first to be built in downtown in 30 years, and was the Florida's largest hotel at the time.  Standing 21 stories high, the tower cost approximately $6 million dollars and was home to a block long marble lobby, a tropical garden, jewelry store, roof-top pool, cabana deck, three restaurants, a cocktail lounge, and a two-level underground parking garage. Its Windsor Room, served as the "great hall of Jacksonville's civic leaders" for more than two decades. The main restaurant, Cafe Carib, featured mosaic panels by noted Japanese artist Tetsuyu Kohchi and the hotel's Bali Hai Lounge was the home of a grand mural by famed French artist Charles Cobelle.

Despite the early fanfare and promised success for the hotel, it soon began on a downward financial slide and filed for bankruptcy, closing in 1977. In 1980, a group of Jacksonville investors purchased the hotel, invested over $10 million in improvements and reopened it as the 387 room Holiday Inn City Center. Unfortunately, 2 years later, it shut down as well, laying off 150 employees, due to a lack of business. After 16 years of abandonment, the vacant hotel along with the adjacent former JCPenney/Woolworth building were demolished in order to make room for the $80 million Judge Bryan Simpson Federal Courthouse that occupies the space today.

The Federal Courthouse occupies the site of the former Robert Meyer Hotel today.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP and Kristen Pickrell

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